Interview in 5 minutes.
One last check in the bathroom:
- Suit – nice!
- Tie – nice!
- Hair – looking good!
Your shirt has LOTS of wrinkles (as if it's never been washed or cleaned)!
There goes your confidence, credibility… and you'll stand out for the wrong reasons.
Do NOT let this happen to you.
Wrinkled clothing = NO attention to details
If you fail at the little tasks… how can you be trusted with the BIG ones?
So this means knowing how to IRON your shirts (you can't have them dry cleaned all the time).
Isn't it hard and tedious?
Nope – refer the article & video below for the steps to ironing a shirt correctly
(Become a real Ironing Man in just 2 minutes!)
If you really care about being well-dressed, you must learn how to iron your own shirts.
Ironing affects clothing the way a protein shake affects your body after hitting the gym. It targets the fibers in the wrinkly fabric – and straightens them out by loosening the chemical bonds.
That process requires both the heat of the iron and the weight of its soleplate (the underside). Soon after, the shirt returns to its original form.
Although some say this can also be achieved through steaming (which takes less effort) the truth is there's nothing better than the crisp pressing that only a hot iron will provide.
If getting a nice, wrinkle-free shirt doesn't convince you that ironing matters – here's the bigger picture:
- Your shirts will last longer. By ironing your shirt instead of having it dry cleaned – you can focus the washing/cleaning part on the areas that need it more (cuffs and collar) while you work lightly on other parts (sleeves and body). This kind of adjustment may add extra years to the shirt's lifespan.
- You'll get significant savings. Even if you pay a cheap rate of $1 per shirt for dry cleaning, you can expect to spend $240 a year (since 1 shirt x 20 work days = 20 shirts serviced each month). But you won't go anywhere near that amount if you do your own ironing.
- You control the outcome. Whenever you need a crisp dress shirt right away (from a pile of washed clothes) you can make it happen without the unpredictability of a cleaner's service.
Everything you'll need to properly iron a shirt:
1. A Clean Iron
The base plate has to be free of rust or sediment. If you’re not sure about this, try using the iron on an old white cloth to see if it leaves any stains.
If there is some sediment buildup – run a solution of distilled water and 50% vinegar through the steamer function to clean it out.
2. A Freshly Laundered Shirt
Self-explanatory. If your clean shirt has gone through the dryer, remember to remove it once the buzzer goes off so that fewer wrinkles are formed.
Take note also of your shirt fabric type (referring to the care tag that's often located inside the collar). That tag should also have an iron symbol. It states whether or not the shirt can be ironed (based on the number of dots) to begin with.
- One dot – it's a synthetic shirt. Heat should be in the low settings (175-230 degrees).
- Two dots – it's a silk or wool shirt. It would need medium settings (250-300 degrees).
- Three dots – it's a linen or cotton shirt. It requires 320-400 degrees to return to form. These materials are also the only ones that should receive any steam (unless you see an X through the steam symbol). So you'll need some distilled water for these cases.
Note: if your shirt has removable collar stays, never forget to take them out before you start ironing.
3. A Clean Standard Ironing Board
It's technically optional – but an ironing board does make the whole thing a lot easier than a desk or table (which has to be covered with a towel) would. You don't need the specialty kind. Those large common boards in the department store will do just fine.
4. Distilled Water
Water is used to reset the fabric to a repressed, unwrinkled state – and reduce the risk of the hot iron burning the fabric.
Ironing Your Shirt: Step #1 – The Back Of The Collar
Begin at the edges of the back of the collar – ironing towards the middle. It's important that you go in this direction. Starting from the middle might cause the fabric to gain visible creases near the collar points.
Ironing Your Shirt: Step #2 – The Cuffs
First, iron the inside of the cuffs to remove the main creases – again moving from the edges towards the middle. Finish off by ironing the outside area using the same method. Iron gently around the buttons to avoid damaging them.
Ironing Your Shirt: Step #3 – The Sleeves
Smooth out the sleeves with your hands before placing the iron over them. This helps prevent unwanted creases. Start with the tip of the iron at the cuffs – then work your way back to the shoulders. Flip the sleeve over to check if the other side needs a quick touch up.
Ironing Your Shirt: Step #4 – The Back
When ironing the back, you’ll have to be extra careful if your shirt has pleats. So I recommend that you start under the pleats before ironing on top of them. Then proceed with ironing the rest of the back (you'll need to reposition the shirt several times on the flat surface to reach all edges and corners).
Ironing Your Shirt: Step #5 – The Shoulders
It's time to work on the shoulders (also called the yoke). Place the shirt so that the narrow end of the ironing board is inside one of the sleeves. Iron the yoke, moving from the outer edge towards the middle. Then flip the shirt so as to position the other sleeve on that end of the board. Repeat the same steps.
Ironing Your Shirt: Step #6 – The Front & Placket
The next stage covers the front. Be gentle when ironing around buttons – you don’t want to damage them or make the threads go loose. Your aim is to get the placket nice and crisp since it's one of most essential parts of your shirt. For the shirt pocket, start from the outside moving in to prevent creases.
Ironing Your Shirt: Step #7 – The Front Of The Collar
Finish up by ironing the front of the collar. Apply the same method you used in Step #1 – starting at the edges and working your way towards the middle.
Ironing Your Shirt: Pro Tips
1. Forget the dryer – iron your shirts while they're moist. Take them out of the washer right after washing. This allows your shirt to get a crisp finish (while avoiding the wear and tear that a dryer might inflict).
2. Iron your shirts in batches. The set-up process almost takes as much time as ironing one shirt. So by ironing all your shirts at once, you'll save time versus ironing each one on separate days.
3. Check for stains BEFORE ironing. Ironing a dirty shirt can cause any stains or discolorment to settle permanently on the fabric. Even a drop of coffee or a ring around the collar should NOT exist when you're using a hot iron.
4. For “stubborn” wrinkles – spray water to dampen the affected area. Then go ahead with ironing out the crease.
5. Place aluminum foil under the ironing board cover. This will help speed up ironing time.
6. For dark-colored fabrics – always iron inside out. This is to prevent fabric sheen (or shiny iron marks) from popping out.
7. Unsure about ironing a garment? Use a steamer instead. It’s less likely to damage your clothing. Consider using a pressing cloth (a thin cotton handkerchief that blocks direct contact between the iron and the fabric) as well.
8. Starch can be used in SMALL amounts. Starch is useful in keeping your shirt crisp for a short while – which is great if you have a morning presentation to dress up nicely for. But starch may also break down cotton fibers more quickly (and damage your iron over time). So apply only a little bit of starch on the collar and cuffs.
9. Learn how to take care of your iron. It's necessary to clean your iron from time to time to keep it functional. You can ask for an iron cleaning kit at your local hardware store. Or try running a damp cloth over the iron (when it hasn't recently been used) to take off any residue. Then rub a beeswax candle over the soleplate and rub off any excess with a rag.
And that's it! You've just learned how to iron shirts effectively, safely and quickly. I do suggest you print this out and stick it somewhere near your ironing station.
At this point, no matter what you need to dress up for – you've got the knowledge and skills so you can always leave the house in a sharp-looking shirt!